cover image The One and Only Cynthia Jane Thornton

The One and Only Cynthia Jane Thornton

Claudia Mills. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $10.95 (110pp) ISBN 978-0-02-767090-5

Cynthia is a fifth grader; Lucy, her sister, is in fourth. Cynthia wants to be a writer; Lucy, an astronomer. In a welcome switch from sibling rivalry stories, these two usually get along very well, throwing each other into hysterics over jokes that are funny only to them, and sharing Saturday morning chores. Then Lucy, advanced in some subjects, joins the fifth grade class for math and science. For the first time, Cynthia feels inhibited by her sister's presence. They've always dressed alike, but now, by agreement, they stop. Lucy finds a new friend; it's harder for Cynthia, who isn't interested in old chums Meg and Jo Ann anymore, and is jealous of the writing talent of a girl named Melissa because it rivals her own. She and Melissa do get together, though, when Cynthia understands that what is unique about herself can't be imitated by anyone else. Mills's conclusions are gently wrought, arising from typical fifth grade concerns; her portrayal of elementary school life is funny, moving and right on the mark. (8-12)